The Risk of High Out-of-Pocket Health Spending among Older Americans

Published: 2020
Project ID: UM20-09


Traditional Medicare imposes significant cost-sharing on beneficiaries. Most but not all beneficiaries obtain supplemental insurance – through Medigap, Medicare Advantage, Medicaid, or employer-sponsored retiree coverage – but these policies vary in how well they protect against the risk of high spending. The purpose of this project is to address the question: Which households are at risk of high out-of-pocket health care spending, and why? In order to address this question, I will estimate trends in out-of-pocket spending risk for households with different types of coverage from 2004 through 2016 using data from the Health and Retirement Study. This project will help improve understanding of the risk that high out-of-pocket health spending poses for older individuals and the role that different types of supplemental insurance coverage play in mitigating that risk.


Helen Levy